Velva’s Barstad wins 195 pound Class B title

FARGO – Chad Barstad had been waiting for his son to grow into his body.

When it finally happened, it made for a memorable finish.

Taylor Barstad polished off his senior season by scoring a takedown and nearly pinning Ellendale-Edgeley-Kulm’s Dylan Schnabel with a minute to go en route to a 6-4 decision in the 195-pound Class B state championship match Saturday at the Fargodome.

Nerves hit him from the get-go, and he didn’t kick into high gear until midway through the third period after trailing 4-1.

“I was pretty nervous for it,” Taylor said. “I was shaking pretty good, so it was hard to shoot.”

A few feet away, Chad Barstad wasn’t doing much better.

“I get nervous when it’s any of our regular kids out there, then I am the father and the coach; it’s like double,” Chad said. “I think the rest of my assistants have been watching out for me, making sure I don’t pass out on the mat.”

But the second-seeded Barstad took control with a takedown, turning Schnabel on his back and holding him down for three nearfall points in a move that essentially ate up the final minute.

It’s been a long ride for Taylor (23-1), who his father said struggled with his coordination and footwork.

“He’s always been a big kid,” Chad said. “Finally the last couple of years, he grew into his body. … He had big size 14 feet and he was stumbling over his own feet. Now, he’s one of the most athletic 195-pounders out there.”

Immediately following the match, Taylor embraced his father.

“That was pretty special for me,” Taylor said. “It’s been real special for him, always coaching me throughout the years.”

Velva didn’t make the Class B state dual tournament for the first time in more than a decade, but the Aggies showed why they have one of the strongest traditions in all of Class B.

Prior to Taylor Barstad’s match, senior teammate Jimi Bridges edged South Border junior James Thielges by 5-1 decision to win the 182-pound title. The top-seeded Bridges finished his season 38-1.

Though Barstad said he didn’t feel the Aggies had anything to prove, Bridges acknowledged a feeling of disappointment with not making it to state as a dual team.

“We’d been here every single year in state duals,” Bridges said. “Not going was pretty disappointing. We had to finish strong and do it for the team and do it for the town of Velva.”

But Chad Barstad told his athletes to look at the situation in a favorable light.

“When you’re not in a dual, individuals should be wrestling a lot better,” he said. “They’re a little more rested up than the kids who have been in the duals, especially for Jimi Bridges’ match. That kid had wrestled three more matches than Jimi had.”

Velva got additional contributions from seniors Adam Dean (145) and Kiel Wierre (160), who both finished fifth. Senior Nathan Schmaltz (170) ended in sixth place. Velva was the highest finishing Region 3 team, taking eighth with 100 points.

With all five placewinners coming from the senior class, Chad Barstad said it was a group to remember.

“It’ll be hard to replace this senior class, it really will,” he said. “They were good leaders, all of them.”